December 5, 2011

Dec. 5: Hold fast

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By Ben Sutter, a junior communication and history double major
THIS WEEK’S THEME: Hold Fast

DEVOTIONAL:
The first semester of my junior year has been a rough semester for me. I’ve felt the strain of long work hours and overwhelming amounts of homework. Life itself can be overwhelming. I’ve struggled to find time to just be present. My spiritual life ha waned. I’ve felt empty and been broken. Many times this semester, God has seemed distant.

I don’t write this out of a need for sympathy, I write this to be honest. It is really hard to keep going sometimes, horribly painful even. Life can feel like it’s pressing down on us. We are not the first, and will not be the last, to cry out to God from our struggles. In this hurt, God’s presence is certain.

The biblical texts this week call us to recognize God’s awesome power. Especially in our pain, we scream out to God. In Isaiah 61, the writer proclaims that the Lord God still remains, even in suffering; verse 3 petitions God “to provide for those who mourn.” Psalm 126 calls out to the Lord to restore good life to us, asking that “those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells Christ’s followers to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, [and] give thanks in all circumstances.” John the Baptist makes his voice heard, as “the voice crying out in the wilderness,” in John 1:23.

As you go through this week, remember to hold fast to God. In Advent, and in life, the vast darkness of our pained souls is pierced by the light of Christ.

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Comments (21)

  1. Thanks, Ben — you keep breathing, and I’ll keep breathing. Your message means a lot to me.

    Maureen December 5, 2011 |
  2. Thank you, Ben. You framed the readings for the week ahead beautifully. Blessings.

    Eleanor December 5, 2011 |
  3. Thank you for the
    thoughts.We just had my mother-in-laws funeral on Sat. She was a wonderful woman of God. Today may God grant us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the spirit of praise instead of heaviness.

    Sandy Stuckey December 5, 2011 |
  4. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. This reminder of God’s light is just what I needed as I face the week ahead.

    Stephanie December 5, 2011 |
  5. Thanks so much, Ben! Your words were so encouraging and brought peace to my soul this morning.

    karen bontrager December 5, 2011 |
  6. bless you, Ben. You are in my prayers. I appreciate your honesty and encouragement.

    Lisa S. December 5, 2011 |
  7. Thank you, Ben, for your honesty and for your message. The darkness of our souls is pierced by the light of Christ as you say – but also by the light within (created ‘in the image of God'; spiritual gifts). “Let your light so shine before men . . . “. Thank you for doing so. This, too, pierces the darkness, yours as well as mine. Thank you.

    Jim Miller (James N. '53) December 5, 2011 |
  8. I have been there; thanks for honesty sharing your need and your dependence on the One who is ever-present and able to give rest. May you continue to see the blessing of His Peace in the midst of the demands.

    Ruth December 5, 2011 |
  9. Thanks, Ben! The was exactly what was needed for a Monday morning. In reality, it’s not so much that we “hold on” to Him, but that He securely holds on to us. Blessings on you!

    Dickie December 5, 2011 |
  10. I love the imagery of your last phrase: “the vast darkness of our pained souls is pierced by the light of Christ.”

    A beautiful encouragement.

    Allison December 5, 2011 |
  11. Thanks so much, Ben. You have spoken words that resonate deeply with me.

    Deb December 5, 2011 |
  12. Thanks a lot Ben. I could relate very closely to your struggles and was encouraged by your sharing and call to “hold fast to God.”

    Ben December 5, 2011 |
  13. Your words could be mine. Life is painful at times but if we just let Him hold us, we can make it–through His strength. Bless you!

    Rhonda December 5, 2011 |
  14. So true, Ben. Hang in there or hold fast…it can be overwhelming; sometimes we forget that prayer helps to unload although we’re still accountable!

    Jan Andrews December 5, 2011 |
  15. Ben Sutter’s devotion was so refreshingly honest; I would only encourage Ben that sometimes we forget that it’s God that holds on to us and not the other way around!

    Mary Mendenhall December 5, 2011 |
  16. I can relate. Thanks!

    Meg Bennett December 5, 2011 |
  17. Thanks, Ben, for our transparent honesty. You have been a blessing!

    Eldon King December 5, 2011 |
  18. thanks Ben…for your honesty and faith in God! I will lift you up to the Father. Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite verses….”I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Blessings and peace.
    sandi

    Sandi December 5, 2011 |
  19. Thanks Ben, great encouragement for a 90 year old.

    Mary K. December 5, 2011 |
  20. Thank you Ben! I too am going through the same thing but I remember had to remember my help comes from the LORD. The LORD will always be by your side. Just take up the armor of God (the word) and it will equip you each and everyday with the things you need. May you be blelssed.

    Danielle

    danielle December 5, 2011 |
  21. Thank you Ben for your insight and words. I read your devotion in our staff prayer time this morning.

    Bill M
    Northwestern College – Iowa

    Bill Minnick December 6, 2011 |